Guardian: Germany’s anti-Islamic movement Pegida is a vampire we must slay

No, no, surely not. On top of everything else, not that. Three days before a young Eritrean was murdered in Dresden, a swastika was daubed on the door of his flat. On the evening he was stabbed to death, last Monday, the xenophobic movement already known around the world as Pegida had held its largest demonstration so far in that lovely city on the River Elbe. And it’s not just Germany. As a foiled Islamist terrorist plot in Belgium follows hard on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, politicians on the xenophobic, anti-immigration far right are looking to pick up votes across Europe. There is a real and present danger of a downward spiral in which radicalised minorities, Muslim and anti-Muslim, will drag anxious majorities, non-Muslim and Muslim, in the wrong direction. Only a conscious, everyday effort by each one of us will prevent it.

The Dresden case is fortunately, thus far, not typical of Germany as a whole. Dresden sits at the scenic heart of a quite unusual corner of the former East Germany. Unlike most big west German cities, it has a low level of immigration, and little experience of living with cultural difference. In communist times, this corner was known as the “valley of the clueless”, because its inhabitants could not receive West German television broadcasts. Reports suggest that, so far, most of the participants in the Pegida demos have been middle-aged, and therefore shaped by a sheltered life in the old East Germany…

…How do we stop the vicious downward spiral? Traditionally, European parties of the centre-right such as the CDU and the Conservatives have tacked to the right to win back such voters…

…While never compromising on the essentials of an open society, including free speech, we non-Muslim Europeans must keep sending these small signals to our Muslim fellow Europeans, both online and in our everyday personal interactions. The best signal of all is the one that indicates no explicit signal is necessary. This is what happens most of the time in a city like London: you just take it as given that Muslim British people are as much Brits as anyone else – that in truth there is no “they”, just a larger, gloriously mixed and muddled “us”. That is how we will win the plebiscite every day. And that is how we will see off a vampire called Pegida.

By useful idiot Timothy Garton Ash, who sneered at Ayaan Hirsi Ali: “Timothy Garton Ash chivalrically tells us that if Hirsi Ali ‘had been short, squat and squinting, her story and her views might not have been so closely attended to’.”

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